Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Merseyside landmarks, buildings, streets and events from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main image this week shows workmen cheering repatriated and wounded prisoners on a Red Cross train taking them from the Liverpool quayside. The date is October 1943.

The prisoners are clearly moved by their spontaneous welcome back to British shores and are waving back from the carriage windows.

The port of Liverpool played a massive strategic role throughout World War II. It was the main western point of entry for imported food, fuel and raw materials and the springboard for the Battle of the Atlantic.

More than 2,000 British and Allied merchant ships were sunk in the North Atlantic from 1939 to 1945.

Second World War
Sunday sunshine on the Liverpool waterfront.
The importance of Liverpool to the war effort was quickly recognised by the German forces and the city was repeatedly bombed by the Luftwaffe.

The docks, including warehouses, railways and factories, were heavily damaged as air raids intensified in late 1940. Wapping Dock was hit in the May Blitz of 1941 with the southern section never rebuilt. Only the cast iron columns remained.

A heavy bomb exploded in the basement of the Port of Liverpool building, seriously damaging the eastern wing. But the building’s frame of reinforced concrete meant it could be reoccupied with only temporary repairs.

Our modern image, from July 2021, shows a very different waterfront bathed in sunshine as people finally walk around more freely after the easing of lockdown.

*Unmissable wartime images from Liverpool and the North West are included in Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book The Home Front – Britain 1939-45.